It’s the holiday season — and that means you’re making and eating lots of food. The last thing you want to experience is food poisoning. Therefore, you should remember different techniques to ensure your holiday feast is as safe to eat as it is delicious.
Here are 10 tips to follow.
1. Refrigerate Food Within Two Hours
A good rule of thumb is to store perishable food two hours after cooking. You’ll keep bacteria from growing as a result. You should also only keep leftovers for three to four days in the refrigerator. The freezer can store items for up to four months.
2. Make Room For Cold Items
The best thing to do before cooking is to prepare. You need to ensure you have enough room in your refrigerator and freezer to accommodate what you have to chill. It’s not going to be fun when you realize you don’t have anywhere to store your food.
Be sure to take stock of your space. This check will save you headaches down the line.
3. Practice Proper Hygiene and Cleaning
Did you know that washing your hands can reduce the risk of certain diseases by up to 50%? It’s always important to practice proper hygiene and cleaning techniques when you’re in the kitchen. Be sure to wash your hands, counters and utensils frequently.
4. Cook To Correct Temperatures
The only way to ensure your food is the correct temperature is by checking. Everything you’re serving for the holidays needs to be cooked to at least 165 degrees. Keep plates above 140 degrees when serving. This heat guarantees the absence of any harmful bacteria.
5. Keep Guests Away From The Kitchen
Reducing the number of cooks in the kitchen is always smart. You don’t need people touching and handling food when cold and flu season will be at its peak. Try serving a small platter of appetizers in another room to keep guests occupied while you’re cooking.
6. Defrost Meat Adequately
You’re probably planning to serve large cuts of meat like turkey and ham. In that case, you need to make sure everything defrosts correctly. A 12-pound piece of meat needs a little over two days to thaw in the refrigerator. Be sure to give yourself enough time to do things the right way.
7. Check Foods After Reheating
Like most people, you’re likely looking forward to filling up your plate with leftovers. Doing so correctly is an integral part of food safety. Place a covered dish in the microwave and let it cook for around a minute or two. Then, you should use a thermometer to ensure it’s 165 degrees.
8. Avoid Raw Dough And Batter
It can be tempting to lick the spoon after making a batch of cookies. Unfortunately, you can get a bacterial disease called salmonella as a result of consuming raw eggs. Avoid eating any raw dough or batter when making sweets this holiday season.
9. Wash All Produce
Even pre-packaged produce needs a wash. You want to get rid of any chemicals and bacteria that might be on your vegetables and fruits before preparing them. A simple rinse under room temperature water should do the trick.
10. Take Precautions When Pregnant
If you’re pregnant, you should remember to avoid specific foods during the holiday season. A cheese plate might look tasty, but you might end up contracting listeria from digging into a hunk of brie. Think twice before eating smoked seafood, too.
Have A Safe And Happy Holiday Season With These Tricks
By remembering these rules, you can avoid food poisoning when cooking and eating with family and friends this year. Food safety is important year-round, so keep them in mind after the fact, too. Happy holidays!
Jane is an environmental writer and the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she covers sustainability and eco-friendly living.